my quote of the moment: "if you can attain repose and calm, believe that you have seized happiness." ~julie-jeanne-eleonore de lespinasse

March 28, 2013

keep it together until it comes together

i am by no means perfect. i don't even pretend to be perfect. there are days where i feel lucky to make it out of the house in one piece only slightly late while forgetting one or two things. seriously, my goal in life is to be able to get everyone in my house out the door on time for a whole week completely prepared for their day. it hasn't happened yet, but when it does, i will be throwing myself a party.

and so, when i'm out and about, at the store or on the way to school for example, i look at other moms with pity and understanding. because i know what it's like not to have it all together. and i'd hope that they look at me with the same sort of understanding.

like if i'm grocery shopping, and i hear screaming. full pitched, throwing a fit, should be accompanied by rolling on the floor and kicking feet, i feel bad for whoever that kid belongs to. well, my first reaction is to be glad it's not mine, because there but for the grace of god it could be. and then, i feel for them. because i've been there. in fact, there are times i'm there right now, because dear fish thinks she's a big girl so she doesn't want to sit in a shopping cart anymore. and it's hard to keep her near me and not run off. and it's hard to get her to not touch everything. and some days i just don't have the patience to deal, and i strap her in the cart, and then she screams bloody murder. so i know how it goes with kids in stores sometimes.

i try to be organized. i try to have it all together. mostly, i'm trying to get my boys to realize that they are old enough to mind their own stuff and get themselves ready. because if they could manage that, then all i'd have to do is focus on myself and fish (and making sure their dad is awake, but that's a whole different challenge). lately, they've been telling me that they are old enough and responsible enough to handle everything, and i've let them try and prove themselves. and sometimes it goes well. and sometimes they have a water fight when they're supposed to be brushing their teeth. or bumble forgets to wear his glasses to school. or lumpy forgets to give me the papers he brought home, the ones i was supposed to sign.

i know i wasn't always the most together and with it person, or maybe i never really was, but it seems to me that i have become less and less organized over the years. and yes, i know that i'm not only responsible for myself, but also for all the people that reside in my house, so i've got more work to do just to get out the door. but there are days where i can get everyone up and dressed and moving and out the door on time, but i forget to brush my own teeth. and it seems lately that's how it goes, that i can remember everything for everybody else, but i forget myself sometimes.

i must admit that things are slowly getting better. there are weeks where i remember to help the boys with all of their school work, and only forget the work they were supposed to do for cub scouts. and when i go to the store, i actually remember my list and only forget to buy the things i forgot to write down. and most weeks i actually remember all the places we're supposed to go, even if we're a little late for most of them.

i also know that this state of barely controlled chaos is temporary. as my kids get older and actually become more self sufficient, they'll be able to manage their own affairs and better remember their own responsibilities without needing me to constantly remind them. and one day, i'll look back on all this craziness and wonder where my children went, as eventually i'll be surrounded by young adults who are too cool to hang out with their mother. so i've been told to cherish this time, even though many days all i want is for people to take control of their own affairs so i have the time to manage mine. also, most days i'd like a nap.

March 26, 2013

i wish i could be brave

being brave and speaking my mind on important topics is hard. especially when i always try to be so careful not to upset or anger people. if i know my thoughts on a subject are different, i do my best to avoid talking about.

yet, there are some things that i feel very strongly about, things that i believe in with all my heart. these are the things that i am trying to teach my children, important values that i want to instill. some are basic, but i realize that some are more controversial.

i know that as we go out in the world, we'll encounter people who are different than us, people come from different backgrounds and hold different beliefs. i like to think that i have a very open mind. as long as it doesn't affect me or my kids, i don't really care what others believe. jesus or budda or the flying spaghetti monster, i feel like you have the right to worship whoever you want. but you don't have the right to tell me who or what to believe in. and if i believe differently, you can't tell me i'm wrong simply because your god tells you that i am. my god is one of compassion and acceptance, of tolerance and love.

it's harder still when we want to be a part of things, join organizations and such, and the benefits for my children seem to outweigh the costs of keeping silent. but then sometimes it feels very wrong to keep quiet, like we are all pretending that nothing is wrong by not talking about it. or everybody assumes we all agree on all things just because we are not as vocal with our beliefs.

i feel so weak, and i wish that i could stand up and tell everybody what i really think. because though they haven't always been talking specifically to me, i know their thoughts and views on most things. especially way back in november, they made it very clear what they believe in and what they think others should believe in too.

i'm afraid, also, that if i do find courage to say something, it won't just be me that loses out, i'm afraid that their retaliation would affect my children. now i don't know for sure that it would happen, or that anything would change, but i'm sure i'd be the talk of their little circle. it's hard enough sometimes to explain the cruelty and unfairness of the world to my boys, but then to try to explain to them that they can't be friends with others simply because their parents are so close minded, i know they wouldn't understand. i had a hard enough time trying to explain what slavery was when it came up in their social studies homework. because when they ask you "why would a person do that to somebody else?" i just didn't have a good answer.

and i guess that's my problem. i don't really have a good answer for any of this. i just want people to be happy and treated fairly. and i can't understand why everybody doesn't agree with that.

March 20, 2013

one pot of happy

long ago i spoke of my love of casseroles, how i think they are a wonderfully perfect food. they are easy to prepare, make ahead, throw them in the oven, and all ready for dinner. they almost stress-free to make, and personally i think they're delicious. unfortunately, my kids enjoy eating all their food separately, and therefore do not share my love of casseroles.

there is another style of food i love for dinner, one that is easy to make ahead, one that i can pull out of my freezer and heat up, one that helps keep supper time stress free. i am now talking about my new found love of crock pot meals.

i used to make food all the time in my crock pot. i even have a much loved, falling apart cook book filled with different crock pot recipes. and then, as my boys got older, i stopped. like i've mentioned, they like to eat all of their food separately, spread across their plate in neat piles, eating one kind of thing at a time before moving onto the next. crock pot meals cook everything together, so it's not always easy to separate into different components. and so, for the exact same reason as casseroles, my boys don't like them. and because i got tired of all the complaining, i stopped making them.

lately, though, i've seen all sorts of links and site and talk about crock pot meals. and not just regular crock pot meals, but make ahead meals. these are recipes that allow you to throw everything into one bag, pop it in the freezer, and pull it out at a later date to cook when things get really busy. some recipes are even complete meals, no need to make mashed potatoes or pasta or rice as a side.

i personally think that's a brilliant idea for a couple of reasons. using these make ahead and freeze for later meals means not only do i have dinner for a night where i don't have much time to make anything, it also means that i have something to cook when i don't really have any ideas of what to make, because it's already done for me. also, because these are crock pot meals, it means that i can start it in the late morning, go and be busy for awhile, and still have a yummy dinner all ready and waiting when we need it. the extra bonus of cooking it in the crock pot is that if we are running late, an extra hour cook time doesn't mean a ruined meal like it would if it was a dinner in the oven. an extra benefit i found when preparing these freezer meals is that i was able to make them now when the protein i was using was on sale, so it's even more economical than saving the recipe and making it later.

so yes, today i made 12 meals for future use, all bagged and tagged and stored in my deep freeze. i went through a couple of different sites, picking out the recipes that i thought my family would like best. still, i know i'm going to hear some complaints about how everything is all mixed together, but with three kids it's very rare that i don't have at least one complaining about something i'm forcing them to eat, so i'm not that worried about it. these crock pot meals might just turn out to be my new favorite thing.

right behind chocolate cake.

March 18, 2013

feeling tropical

i'm kind of sick of winter. actually, i don't mind winter, i'm just kind of sick of this time of year. it's still cold and crappy, but then the next day the sun comes out and it's nice and warm. or the sun comes out, but it's so windy it only seems warm, and then when you step outside you realize how bitterly cold it really is. i wish the weather would just make up its mind.

so because the weather has had me down lately, i decided to push past spring and think about summer. warm tropical breezes, the sand and the sea, fruity drinks with paper umbrellas, all of these were my inspiration for a delicious beachy feast.

ok, i'll be real here, a while back i bought a lime flavored cake mix. last year i found pink lemonade flavored cake mix and cookie mix and frosting in a tub, and this year it's back with all its friends in lime flavors. so i broke down and bought the lime cake mix to try. and i decided to use it as a starting point for my tropical meal.

yes, i know, lime isn't overly tropical. but pair it with coconut and pineapple and it is. or at least in my head it is. so when i baked the cake mix, i decided to do a pina colada sort of frosting. or rather it was exactly a pina colada frosting because when i made it, i used pina colada mix in place of the milk and vanilla called for in the recipe, and i mixed in some shredded coconut for good measure. to get some extra pineapple flavor going on, i mixed a bit of crushed pineapple with some of the frosting and used that as a filling inside the cake. with extra coconut sprinkled on the outside of it, it looked very tropical indeed.

after dessert was done, i turned my thoughts to what we were going to eat for the main meal. i decided to try an easy recipe for coconut shrimp that i had found, because i was again stretching the limits of the definition of tropical food. the coconut shrimp was simply peeled and deveined, dipped in egg and then dredged in a mix of coconut and shake'n bake, then baked at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. it was super easy, and it was a recipe for breaded shrimp that didn't involve frying, so i figured i'd give it a whirl.

to pair with the shrimp, i looked up a recipe that was a mock up for the red lobsters sauce that they pair with their coconut shrimp. turns out it was the perfect way to use up some of the pina colada mix and pineapple that was left over after making the cake.

the meal itself was a hit. the shrimp was amazing, and definitely something i'll make again. i was actually surprised how crispy it got in the oven, but i guess that's due to the magic of shake'n bake. the dipping sauce i made to go with it was kind of weird honestly. for whatever reason, it called for powdered sugar, which i used, but it made the sauce overly sweet. it also wasn't very thick like i would have preferred, but then i don't think i boiled it for the 20 minutes the recipe called for. if i make it again, i'll definitely be tweaking the recipe so it's more to my liking.

the cake was ok, which was actually rather disappointing to me. i used a different recipe for the frosting, one that called for a higher butter to sugar ratio than i'm used to, so i'm not sure why i was so surprised when the finished product was so buttery, more buttery than i like. also, the pina colada mix didn't flavor it as much as i hoped, so if i try it again i think i'll add some coconut extract also, to help bump up the flavor. still, i thought it was edible, and lumpy and fishie liked it well enough. neither my hubby nor bumble would even try it, because the lime cake part was green. very very green. and both of them said they don't eat green cake.

i can't say the whole evening transported me to the tropics, but it was definitely something different, and different can be good. because sometimes different is all it takes to get me out of my winter blues, which was the point of the meal in the first place.

March 16, 2013

naked and free is the way to be

i have always had this idea that i believe is an absolute truth. it might sound crazy to some, but i'm sure there are others out there that will nod their heads along with what i have to say.

all children like to be naked.

it's true, it really is. once a child is old enough to take their own clothes off, it's next to impossible to keep them fully dressed.

my kids all went through that stage. in fact, dear fishie finally grew out of that stage when she grew into regular clothes. she used to unzip her sleepers. she tried to take off her shirts. and if you took off her pants to change her diaper, it's a fight to get her to hold still long enough for you to put them back on. though even now she likes to run around with no pants on. many times after she's done going potty, she comes out just to wiggle her naked butt, which is super awesome when the boys have friends over.

though my boys like to be naked also. when i send them to get dressed in the mornings, or put their pj's on at night, they'll sit around in their underwear until i go up and get them moving again. they even got robes for christmas so they could hang out in their underwear without making their sister jealous, because i'm trying to teach her, as a girl, she needs to wear at least a tee shirt and underpants at all times.

the thing is, i don't think all this semi-nakedness is a very big deal. i, personally, hate to wear shoes and socks. all summer i run around outside with nothing on my feet. my mother tells me it's the way i always was. and i also am not a big fan of pants. now, as a lady, i know i need to wear something, but for a very long time i would wear skirts because it was like the freedom of no-pants but the modesty demanded by modern society.

my hubby, too, is not a big fan of clothes. though i think his views might have to do more with the fact he complains that he is always hot. lucky for him, he is a male and can run around shirtless all he wants. if i tried that, i can only imagine the horror.

the only real problem our clothes-free lifestyle runs into is the fact that most other people don't share it. and i don't mean my family has gone all the way to being nudists, but there were times, like when we would watch movies at home as a family, that the boys wouldn't wear shirts. or socks. and if it was warm enough i'd let fishie be just in a diaper.

because really, what is the big deal with wearing clothes? clothes just get dirty, and spills are easier to clean off your skin. and if you're not ashamed or self conscious, why must you cover up? especially since we keep our clothes-free ways limited to the privacy of our own home, why would any body else feel the need to say anything against us?

maybe this just falls in line with my liberal views. there are certain things that i consider personal freedoms, certain things that i don't understand why people make such a big deal out of. society is a collective mind, it is many voices that speak as one. but its collective voice is not the only voice. and if what i do doesn't hurt or inconvenience others, if it doesn't effect them in any way, then why should i feel ashamed or wrong? what right does somebody else have to make me feel bad about my choices?

March 15, 2013

cherishing mementos vs. hoarding stuff

at the moment, i am spring cleaning and organizing closets, and i remembered i had this and never posted it. i wrote it last june, when we were moving into the house we're in now. i am still no better about not holding onto things for reason only worthwhile to me...

are you tired of hearing about my moving adventures? yeah, i'm kind of tired of talking about them too. but, the fact is that it is the all consuming entity of my life right now. and, if i don't talk about it nicely like this, i'll probably just start randomly screaming on street corners, holding up signs that say "no more cardboard!" made out of cardboard, of course. because when you're yelling on street corners, it helps to get your point across if you look extra crazy.

my point of this post is that i have lots of stuff. too much stuff by some people's reckoning. but i'm trying to get better about all the random crap i keep. there have been boxes of things that haven't moved into the new house, they went straight to the dump or the donation pile. and there have been boxes that i've opened, and instead of trying to find homes of all contained there-in, i have gotten one of our lovely contractor bags (the 70 gallon kind designed to hold bodies), and filled it with all manner of stuffs.

and sometimes, the boxes are filled with things that i just look at and wonder why they got packed in the first place. those are the easy boxes to deal with, because there's no attatchment to them. it's the other boxes that are harder to figure out. ones that are filled with things that i don't really want, but feel like i need in some way. or it's filled with things that are still perfectly good and in working order, but nobody else wants, so i feel like i need to hold onto it, just in case.

just in case is kind of my downfall. that phrase is what does me in. because there have been boxes filled with old books or toys, or perhaps my wedding decorations from years ago, perfectly fine things that could totally be reused, but nobody else wants. so i think about getting rid of that stuff. and then, of course, i think that maybe tomorrow i'll need it, absolutely have to have it, so i should hold onto it. mind you, i haven't needed any of it in years and years, but tomorrow may be different! i made suddenly need to decorate my yard with frilly paper streamers, or absolutely have to set up a tea party for 20 stuffed bears, whose origins i no longer remember. so i have this burning desire to hold onto things, just in case.

that feeling is honestly easier to overcome than the other side of my problem. because i've become rational enough to understand that if i haven't used it in more than three years, or even gotten it out of the box it's stored in for more than three years, chances are i'm not going to need it. and if some random and crazy "just in case" moment comes up that i absolutely need it, i will go and buy a new version. because the truth is, in real today money, none of it is terribly expensive to replace.

the other side of things are the boxes filled with stuff that i deem irreplaceable. stuff that isn't worth anything to anybody else, but that i feel i must hold onto, lest i forget. they are boxes filled with physical memories. and yet, i'm getting to the point where i realize i don't need to save everything. still, it's very hard to figure out what is worth saving for all of time, and what are things i can let go of. because this is really where my problem lies, i want to save everything, and given the space, i know that i would.

ok, so honestly, my problem is that, even though i don't have the space, i try to save everything. like my closet is filled more with stuff i want to hold onto then clothes for me to wear. and the crazy part is, i am perfectly fine going through my clothes and getting rid of the things i don't use, so that i just enough "nice" outfits to get me through maybe a week.

and i can step back and realize that there is something slightly twisted in that viewpoint. but it's really very hard to get rid of the things you can never replace. like the boxes of drawings and art the boys made me, i have a box for every year that they were in school, starting in preschool. i've also saved all their writing and test and report cards. not that i know what i'll ever do with any of it, because i have a funny feeling they'll never want it. i also, for about twenty years, saved every card, birthday or thank you or congratulations, i ever got. i realized it was a silly thing to do, to save every card, so i stopped, but i still have a whole box from when i was still saving that i just can't bring myself to get rid of. and of course there are my notebooks. two boxes worth. most of them are a testament to my craziness. i finally was able to get rid of a box of disks; 20, filled to capacity with randomness, 3.5 inch diskettes to be precise, and the only real reason i was ok with getting rid of them was because i couldn't find the program i needed to open them anymore.

harder still to part with, but easier to rationalize why i keep them, are all the bits and broken things from all the people i'll never see again. i have a jewelry box filled with odds and ends of broken necklaces and bracelets, many from my grandmother who died years ago, some from friends i'll never see again. the hat from the hospital nursery, and pictures and scribbles and other things, all from my dear niece we lost too soon. and then there is the most random box, with a license plate and an old copy of macbeth and all the bits from high school physics projects and all the photos i took and some i stole from photo albums, all the things that remind me of my brother. and so many other random things from all the people i've lost and are gone forever.

so yes, i suppose that's why i really save all that i do. because i'm afraid to forget. memories are not something i can rely on. they twist and confuse me. my mind plays tricks on me. it's really the part of me that i know is not quite right, the part that can't keep the past straight. but with physical things, it's easier to hold them and remember what really happened.

March 14, 2013

the outside world is a scary place

confession time, and because this is what keeps running through my head lately:

i don't like people. i don't like talking to people or being around them or having to deal with them in most capacities. i nearly have a panic attack when i have to call the school if the boys are sick. i get all flustered dealing with their doctors or dentists or friends' parents. i struggle to rsvp for parties they get invited to, simply because it means talking to somebody else. someone came into my house recently to explain to me how to use less electricity, part of a process to qualify for help with my bill, and all i could do was stare and nod answers to questions. when i have to go to cub scout functions with lumpy, i do my best to stand in the back and blend in with the wall. not an easy feat when i also have to wrangle fishie, though she gives me the perfect excuse to cut short any interactions with others.

i also don't like kids. well, i don't mean not my kids, though sometimes they are hard to handle, but mostly i don't like other people's kids. i don't know how to deal with them or what to say to them. i don't want to yell at them, i don't know how to discipline them, and i don't want to be accused of being "too friendly" with them. most of them are loud and messy and hyper, and i can barely deal with my own loud, messy, hyper children. at least i know what i can do and say to my own kids to get them to settle down. other kids are a mystery to me, and i will stand quietly by and let them run amok because i don't know what to do and anything i want to say seems to me like i'd be interfering with whatever is going on.

there were times where i used to force myself to go out and about in the world. i hoped that if i had enough contact with random strangers and crowds of people, it would seem less terrifying over time.

it never really worked.

there were also times where i felt so stressed out that i couldn't deal with anyone, and so i wouldn't unless i absolutely had to. i can remember times where i wouldn't leave my house for days, where the only people i would see where my kids and my hubby. i would take the boys (this was long before fishie was born) and do all my grocery shopping at walmart at 2am on a wednesday because the only other people in the store besides us would be the stockers, and they were too busy doing their job to want to make conversation.

the last few jobs that i had were ones where i didn't have coworkers, because then i didn't have to worry about trying to make mindless small talk. customers i can deal with because i help them with what they need and then they leave and i don't ever have to see them again. it's why, if i ever get another job, i'd probably chose to be a register monkey again. there's comfort in knowing that all i have to do is focus on the task at hand and keep my "how can i help you" fake smile plastered on my face.

i wish i could say, after all these years of trying, that it's gotten easier to go out and about in the real world. unfortunately it hasn't. there so many things that i'd like to do, and many more things that i'd like to do with my kids, but i know if i tried to go , i'd just be freaking out the whole time. the boys, at least, are getting older now, so it's ok if we go and they run off to do an activity, and i can sit in the corner and mind their sister. and it's really not so bad if i have another grown up with me. the stress of taking the kids out in public coupled with the stress of being out in public myself is more than i can handle for more than an hour at a time.

that isn't to say that i never go out. or that i actively avoid letting my kids go out. mostly this confession is that i just hate going out. as much as i might complain about the fact that i have days where i don't talk to anyone other than my kids and my hubby, i still prefer it. but i do know how important it is for my children to get out into the world and interact with others. it is my hope that they don't end up like me. and so we go out, to the park and to playground and to other various activities. i might not like being there, but i know my kids do. just, if you see me, and i start acting weird, understand it's not you, it's me. me and my craziness.

March 13, 2013

you can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family

so here's some real talk about my family and the fact that i don't know how to deal with parts of it.

and when i'm talking about my family, i mean more than just my hubby and my kids. i mean my parents and his parents and all of our sisters. which is tricky when you try to think about everyone together, because we're all so different.

i suppose it's something that's always been difficult, blending families through marriage. mine is a story that is just like so many others, the way i was raised and the way my husband was raised were very different. more than that is the way our families interact with each other, which is really what i'm having issues dealing with.

when i was younger, still in high school and living with my dad, i wasn't ridiculously close with my sisters. it's not that we didn't get along, it's just we had very different interests. through growing up and moving out, getting married and having kids, i haven't really gotten much closer to them because our lives are so different. that isn't to say that i don't like spending time or hanging out with them, because i do. just like i enjoy spending time with all of my parents, though it doesn't mean i feel the need to call them everyday. once a week to touch base is usually how things work with my parents and sisters and i.

not with my husband. his family, the relationship he has with his parents and sisters, is close. ridiculously close in my opinion. he calls his parents everyday, and depending on his mood he'll even call his sisters a couple of times a week to find out what is going on. and everybody in their family likes to know what is going on with everyone else. sometimes it causes conflicts, huge blow outs where they don't speak for days. but just as quickly as the drama starts, it ends. they apologize (or not), and get over whatever it was, and move on to the next thing. it might be my hubby and one of his sisters fighting, with the others expected to take sides. and the next weeks it's probably two of the girls exchanging words, with my hubby drawn into the mix.

it boggles my mind, really, how into each others lives they are. to me it seems that they don't make big decisions without running it by everyone else. or they have to share what's going on in detail. which is why, when one of them doesn't agree with the others' choice, what they've done or what they're doing, they say something and then the drama starts. i don't know why they need to share every detail, why they need to be so invested in each others' lives. if they would just focus on themselves and worry about their own little families, their own spouses and children, then maybe there wouldn't be all this constant fighting. because it seems that if it's not one of them fighting, it's the other. with calls of "why can't you just be happy for me?" or "why ask what i think if you won't listen?"

though that isn't to say that i don't sometimes wonder what it would be like if i was overly close with my own sisters, if we over-shared every intimate detail of our lives. i wonder if we would still get along like we do or if we'd fight constantly like my hubby and his sisters?

one thing i do know with 100% certainty is that, if something were to happen, if tragedy were to strike or if any of us needed something, our sisters would be there. angry words forgotten and week long silences broken. because no matter how different our relationships are with our siblings, i know that we can count on each other when we need. and that fact is more important than knowing the day to day details, or lack there of.

March 12, 2013

recipe collection

recipes have always been my things. they always make me smile. i read through them and imagine the smells that would be coming from my kitchen as i go through the steps, and of course i dream of what the finished dish might taste like.

for many many years now, i've been reading different cooking blogs. mostly the ones that focus on sugary treats. oddly enough, though i would page through my cookbooks at random, i was never into collecting books. but recipes from blog sites? totally different story.

maybe it's due to the fact that my digital recipe collection takes up no physical space. so there's no guilt about using up what precious little cabinet space i have now. also, cookbooks cost money, but copy-pasting text from various sites is free! and because i'm not using other peoples' amazing creations for profit or gain, i don't feel bad about collecting them for later.

well, i don't feel bad about using other peoples' recipes because i don't call them my own. but i did start to feel bad about the amount i have amassed. so many wonderful ideas for the kitchen, and so few i actually made. and yet i would continue to read blogs and click links and save files for later use.

finally, i realized it started bordering on the ridiculous. over 400 recipes taking up just over 8mb of space on my hard drive, i think i needed to slow down. and so i have. or at least i'm trying to.

now, though i still look every day, i've been more careful about what i save. there are so many recipes that look amazing to me, but i know i'd never make them. sometimes it's because my family would never eat it. sometimes it's because the ingredients are expensive or hard to find around here. or sometimes it's because the recipe is long and complicated. not to brag, but there aren't too many recipes that are above my skill set, it's just i don't have hours during the day to devote to making a particular dish.

unless it's a cake. i've spread super complicated cake recipes out over days, because i don't have the six hours it would have taken to make it all in one shot. but then, in my mind, some cake is just worth it.

March 11, 2013

my dear smart boy

bumble struggles with school. he has issues and trouble, and he's getting tons of help by very qualified teachers and assistants in school. but that doesn't mean we get to be lazy at home. oh no, part of his action plan is not only all of his school work, but also a rigorous schedule of homework. extra work beyond what is assigned to all of the other kids. he has flash cards and worksheets and general practice we have to do.

a lot of this extra special homework is stuff i can have him do on his own, and then check over to make sure he's getting the concept he's practicing. some of it, though, i have to sit with him and work with him and help him with.

so on a typical day, after all the regular homework stuffs and the special homework stuffs and having dinner (the making, the eating, the cleaning up after), there isn't much extra time to do anything that isn't required. which is why, most nights, lumpy gets to do whatever he wants. his only real duty is to keep his sister quiet so his brother and i can work.

see, for whatever reason, lumpy's teacher this year has said that she just wants to let kids be kids, so unless they're struggling with something they work on in class, she won't assign homework. which means he hardly ever gets homework.

already poor bumble has said how not fair it is that he gets tons of homework and lumpy doesn't get any. honestly, i also think lumpy's teacher's view is a little strange. it's especially strange because last year, when we were in a different school and he was only in first grade, lumpy was bringing home a book every night to read and a math worksheet to practice. and now, because he does so well in class during the day, he rarely brings anything home.

i guess it's also strange to me because to look at both my boys together, to see their abilities, it's amazing how far behind one is and how advanced the other. for the longest time i would worry about what would happen when lumpy would catch up to bumble, because it was clear from the beginning that it would happen one day. well honestly, i shouldn't have worried, because lumpy is miles ahead in reading and writing and spelling, and hasn't made a big deal about it. in fact, my usually un-empathetic boy barely said anything when bumble brought home books to read that he had brought home months before.

it does make me wonder, though, if i had the time to spend with him and help him and work with him, how much further along would he be? all my time is devoted to trying to help bumble catch up to his grade levels, so it's a blessing that lumpy can manage most of his work on his own. i already know he's intelligent, and he's proven that he's clever, it makes me hope all the more that things get figured out with his brother, because i have a feeling that lumpy could really go places and impress people. if only i had time to help him along.

compare, contrast, and change... all with a side of guilt

so there's been a lot of talk of change lately. how different people are doing different things, making positive changes in their family's lives. but change is hard, and for every thing worth doing differently, i have what i feel is an equally valid reason as to why i can't change it right now.

there are those that are going totally organic, or making everything from scratch. families that are spending as much time together as possible, or setting up specific times just for family time. those that are getting rid of tvs, and some that are doing arts and crafts together everyday. and then there are those parents that are just trying to yell less and read together more. those that are cleaning and organizing their homes, or volunteering and raising money for good causes.

and then there is me. i compare myself to all these parents and i feel so inadequate. i look at all the changes they're making and the good their doing, and i think how much better off my family would be and how much happier my kids could be if i could just be more like all those other parents.

it's hard enough for me to deal with the day to day without feeling totally overwhelmed. with my dear husband working and going to school, i don't get much help at home. so it falls to me to deal with bumble and all his school works, to find time to give him all the extra help he needs. and of course lumpy needs homework help too, though thankfully he can figure most things out that he brings home himself. and then there is my dear fishie, who is now three and needs all the supervision a normal three year old needs. also and as always, it falls to me to attend to the cleaning and laundry and cooking and shopping.

and so i sit and look around me and wonder why my house is a mess and my kitchen is filled with quick to make processed foods. why, though we have tons of books, i don't have time to sit and read to my kids every day as much as they'd like. the same goes with all the craft supplies that go unused and all the easy, kid friendly recipes that go unmade and all the games we don't sit and play.

so i feel tremendous guilt. i feel like i am somehow failing my kids. that they could be happier or healthier if only i was able to squeeze more into our days, to actually find a way to make all the good changes that it seems everyone else is making. with that also comes the extra special guilt that crops up when i wonder if, had i been more in-tune with my kids, i would have been able to help bumble more. that maybe somehow all the difficulties he has with school could have been prevented if i had done more with him or gotten him help sooner or sent him to a better school that had the resources to give him the special help he needs. in the debate over nature versus nurture, maybe it was my failings at nurturing from the very beginning that caused all of this.

but then that line of thinking is exactly what goes through my head when i remember fish and all her medical fun. and it's worse with lumpy, because he ended up in the hospital twice for a week at a time with me supposedly "caring" for him. what kind of care was he getting from me exactly?

but then, this is the way it always is in my head. i compare myself to all the happy families i see, and then i think that, if it wasn't for me, my family could be that happy too. my kids could be happy and healthy and satisfied with life if they had a more together and in-tune mom. unfortunately for them, they are stuck with me and all my short comings.

and yes, i know, the glimpses i see of other families don't necessarily mean that they really and truly are happier and better off than we are. and what i'm dealing with is terrible mommy guilt. i might not be perfect, but i am trying. we might not read or play games everyday, but we make time when we can. and though i don't always have the patience to have fish help me in the kitchen, i let her help when we're taking cakes to visit family. and it's totally ok that our house doesn't look magazine perfect, because this clutter suits us better.

i like to believe that, if i asked them, my kids wouldn't trade me for any other mommy out there, even with my imperfections and all.

March 6, 2013


in my past, i have been labeled many things. and because of those labels, it changed people's notions of who i was. and, even worse, i let myself be changed by them. i would try to grow into a label that didn't quite fit, instead of fighting against it or ignoring it completely, which, in hindsight, is obviously what i should have been doing all along.

so i've rallied against them. i do my best to not label people, to let them show me who they are and what they can do, instead of grouping them in with all the other people that they seem like, stamping them all with the same label, and dismissing anything extra they might possess or be. in short, i think labels are bad and i try not to use them.

and yet, i know find myself in the strange position of working hard to label my dear bumble. i want him to be rubber stamped and categorized, because that seems to be the only way he'll get the help he desperately needs.

i love him dearly, and he has many talents and strengths, but school is not one of them. not all of school, and certainly not the experience as a whole. he makes friends, delights his teachers, and sets a good example by working hard and doing his best. and honestly, he's good at math, numbers are his strong suit. it's all those pesky letters that trip him up.

last year he was in a different school. and there he learned to spell by memorizing lists of words. and it was easy to get him to practice by writing and rewriting that list, then quizzing him on it and making him write the ones he missed again. this year, at this new school, they don't use rote memorization to teach spelling, they use a phonics system. it's a system all the kids were introduced to in first grade, and bumble, who is in third, had to learn not only the new lessons but how the whole system worked.

and he just doesn't get it. and i've tried to help him, but it's one of those things in my head where things just are the way they are. like, if there is a silent e at the end of a word it makes the other vowel long, just because that's how it works. so it's hard for him to wrap his head around because i can't really explain it to him.

but it's extra hard because, for his tests, he's supposed to spell the words by saying them out loud and figure our the letter combinations by how the word sounds, all according to the phonic rule he studied that week. but how is he supposed to sound out words if he can't say them correctly? i mean, he sees a speech therapist for an hour a week because he can't sound out word like everyone else. so even though he tries his best, he's barely passing spelling.

and because he can't speak properly and sound words out, and because there also seems to be some break down in his comprehension, he is failing reading. there are levels set by the school, and there are guidelines set by the state, and he sees a reading specialist to try and help him catch up. because he isn't just a little behind, according to all the guidelines he's only reading at a second grade level. like the latest tests he took, he scored at level 20 (whatever that number really means). by the end of second grade/beginning of third, he was supposed to be a level 28. by the end of third, he supposed to be a 42 or something ridiculous. sadly, he's so far behind, i haven't even bothered to see where he's supposed to be grade level wise at this point. his brother, lumpy, who is in second grade, recently tested at level 24. bumble has started bringing home the same books his brother brought home months ago. so you can imagine how fun this is to deal with when faced with competitive brothers.

i am at a loss with all of it. i try to help him. we practice practice practice at home. he does his regular homework, his speech homework, and extra worksheets we've found to try and help him catch up. because i keep desperately hoping that something finally clicks and he just gets it. because he loves school and loves to learn and tries so hard, he definitely deserves to get it.

unfortunately, i've finally accepted that he's probably not just going to get it. that, as much as i love him, there is something not quite right going on in his brain. and so now his teachers, his specialists, and i are working toward getting him a label. because he's getting all the help they can give at school, unless he's labeled with a learning disability. because until they can say exactly what programs he needs, according to his label, then he can't have access to any of them.

this broken system breaks my heart. and as much as i don't like it, i know it's best and the right thing for him. looking toward the future, it's what needs to be done.

March 5, 2013

i'm not dead yet

i know i know i know... i'm really bad at this writing thing.

or maybe i'm just bad with consistency and follow through.

or maybe i'm just at a loss of words that i want to share. over sharing is a problem, but then that leaves me with the "how much is too much" issue. so i err on the side of caution and don't say anything at all.

and then i'm silent for weeks at a time. which is honestly lame and pathetic.

i'm trying, i really am. i'm working through issues, i'm dealing with my problems, i'm tackling this crazy life thing head on.

i'm also going to work on my own time line. i'm not going to do things when i think i should, or how i'm supposed to. because seriously? i make the rules here. i don't know why i care so much what others think if i do things differently, or wrong, or strangely. as long as i stay true to me, what does it matter what others think?

well honestly, it matters tons what others think to me. my head is still back in high school with the worries over what the cool kids will say. it's what makes me bite my tongue and be overly careful what i say. the internet is forever, right?

i know this might not make sense to anyone but me, but this line of thinking is logical in my own head. it's something i'm working on changing, it's something i'm trying to fix. but it's hard. and a long process. and maybe baby steps is where it's at. and posting more here is the first step.

and the second step is no more beating myself up over the fact that i'm not posting often, or as much as i should, or as much as i think that i should.

no promises of posting this time. just that i will try to be better. because really, that's all anyone can do.